Gaza becoming a police state consumed by fear

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 |  Israel Today Staff

The Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip is increasingly becoming physical manifestation of police state horror stories where an atmosphere of fear compels even family members to turn on their loved ones in hopes of avoiding brutal torture.

Citing numerous Gaza sources, a corespondent for Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, reported that the body count of traitors in Gaza is mounting rapidly. Every day, local Gaza papers report about bodies washing up on nearby beaches, most with a bullet hole in the head. And those are just the cases that manage to make it to the headlines. Many more disappear and are simply never heard from again.

Hamas is on a renewed campaign to round up and eliminate perceived security threats, as evidenced by the fact that most of those who have been found dead of late were mid-level government officials or security officers.

But Hamas isn't stopping there. According to Yediot, during the coming school year, Gaza children will be taught about the "dangers" of collaborating with the enemy, and will be encouraged to turn in even their own parents if they suspect traitorous behavior.

The more harsh tactic follows a 40-day period of clemency that Hamas announced in May during which any local Palestinians who had cooperated with Israeli security forces could turn themselves in for a reduced sentence. Twenty people took up the offer. It is not clear what became of them.

Hamas' focus on rooting out collaborators was sparked by the December 2008-January 2009 Israeli invasion of Gaza following incessant Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel. During the incursion, Hamas realized that the Israelis had amassed detailed human intelligence on the group's operations and personnel. That kind of information can only come from the inside.

There are also reports that Hamas is increasingly imposing Sharia Law (strict Islamic law) on the residents of Gaza.

Last month, Bloomberg reported that Hamas had banned Gaza stores from displaying women's underwear in their storefront windows. The shop owners were also put under surveillance to ensure they were not engaging in "suspicious behavior with female customers."

Other reports have noted that women in Gaza are no longer permitted to smoke in public, and are being increasingly pressured to wear a burka (full head covering) when outside the home.

There has been little or no international reaction to the growing internal oppression of Gaza's residents.

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